Techno-economic analysis of thermoelectrics for waste heat recovery (Abstract SGRI 2017)

Dr Kris Anderson, Research Fellow, Sustainable Gas Institute and Department of Earth Sciences & Engineering, Imperial College London

 

[Sustainable Gas Research & Innovation 2017, Wednesday 20th September, 11:35-12:45]

Waste heat is a large and relatively unutilised resource that has the potential to significantly reduce consumption of fossil fuels. Thermoelectric generators have been investigated for decades as an alternative form of heat engine. Whilst numerous articles have been written discussing the material properties of these devices, few have analysed the technical and economic aspects relating to their application in waste heat recovery. This study reviews the commercially successful application of these devices and identifies the leading materials. Their application in waste heat recovery is then analysed from both a power generation and cost perspective. Their performance relative to rival technology is then compared. This study finds that their application is limited to capacities below 10 kW where their absence of moving parts is able to compensate for their low thermal efficiency. In order to compete with conventional heat engine designs at larger capacities above 10 kW, the thermoelectrics industry will have to convert the latest developments in material design into functioning modules.